Are you sick and tired of continually slapping mosquitoes every time you want to enjoy outdoors in the evening?
Maybe you hate putting on those smelly insect repellent sprays that contain chemicals like DEET?
If you’re looking for a natural way to control mosquitoes, then you’re in luck. It just so happens that nature has the perfect answer to deter those pesky bloodsuckers.
You can grow individual plants that will not only repel mosquitoes and other pests but also make your home and garden look beautiful while providing fresh air indoors.
Plants Mosquitoes Hate
Here’s a list of plants that drive mosquitoes crazy!
Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus) carries a strong citrus smell, which can help mask you from mosquitoes. It’s a common chemical found in many repellents and a key ingredient for citronella essential oil. However, the plant itself is much more useful than the candles or torches, because it has a stronger smell.
This helpful plant is a perennial, and it grows into a green, bush-like plant up to five or six feet high. However, while it can grow in gardens, it does better in pots if you live in an area that gets a lot of frosts, in which case you would want to bring it inside during the winter.
Citronella is also a low-maintenance plant and does very well in full sun and well-draining soil.
This is another plant with a powerful smell. It is also called lemon balm or bee balm. It is a fast-growing perennial that has a tolerance for shade and is drought resistant.
Horsemint can grow up to two or three feet high and wide. It does very well in sandy soil. This plant can also divide in the spring and fall to transplant to other locations.
It also attracts bees and butterflies, so it also doubles as a great way to attract pollinators to your garden.
This robust and colorful flower is much more than just an ornamental garden stock. Mosquitoes can’t stand the smell of these flowers. They release pyrethrum, a natural insecticide that is also found in many commercial repellents.
Marigolds are annual plants but will reseed themselves, so you may have to take care to thin the flowers from time to time.
They thrive in full sun and healthy, but not over-fertilized soil. You can plant them by seed or go to a garden center and buy seedlings. Marigolds also deter tomato-eating insects, so planting them near your vegetable garden will help you control more than just mosquitoes.
Marigolds can be grown in pots as well, so you can place some indoors at the main entry points of mosquitoes such as doors and windowsills.
Catnip isn’t just for making your cat writhe in ecstasy; it’s also an excellent natural mosquito repellent. Iowa State University entomologists reported in 2010 that catnip is ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET.
During their research, scientists distilled the mosquito-repellent compound in essential oil, added wax and made a patch that was able to keep mosquitoes at bay for up to 3 hours from the volunteers.
A separate study, by the USDA, found that catnip is also great at repelling stable flies.
Catnip contains a substance called nepetalactone that mosquitoes simply hate while the plant is a very easy-to-grow perennial. Plus, your felines will thank you for adding a bit of “kitty crack” to your garden.
Catnip will always repel mosquitoes that are near the plant. Catnip is also a relative of mint (another great pest-repeller).
You can rub catnip on your skin, but be careful, most cats will react to you the same way they respond to the plant, which can get annoying.
There are several varieties of lavender. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is a beautiful plant to look at, has a lovely smell, and is very easy to grow. However, mosquitoes are not huge fans of its strong, fragrant scent.
In 2009, a study revealed that lavender’s effectiveness at repelling mosquitoes is 53% while lavender oil’s mosquito-repelling effectiveness is 93%.
Lavender is a fragrant herb that flowers; it can also mask your body’s smell from mosquitoes, which is why applying lavender on your skin can do a tremendous job at keeping the bloodsuckers at bay. Another benefit is its calming effect, plus when applied as oil it can nourish your skin.
You can grow this plant in a pot or a garden. When grown indoors in a container make sure that you pay special attention to the soil mix, nutrition, location (away from drafts), and watering schedule.
This delicious herb is not only great for cooking, but it’s also one of a mosquito’s worst nightmares. Basil is an easy-to-grow herb. And all varieties of basil will work well as a mosquito repellent, so you can plant different types such as lemon basil and cinnamon basil.
A 2019 study found that basil can be fatal to at least a couple of mosquito species’ offspring. In 2011, a separate team of researchers found that basil is 80% effective at repelling the annoying bugs. What’s more, if the herb is used as a skin patch, its effectiveness jumped to 100% percent.
Researchers found that the best way of using basil to repel mosquitoes is as essential oil. However, the concentration of the herb should not higher than 0.07% if you plan on using it as a skin patch. Over that limit, a compound found in basil, methyleugenol, can boost cancer risk.
You can buy the plants from a garden center or plant them as seeds.
You can also rub basil on your skin.
This mint species that is not safe for human consumption is great at repelling mosquitoes instead. You can plant pennyroyal in your backyard, garden and even in pots.
Don’t use it on your skin, though, as you might poison yourself. Plant this perennial in strategic places where you would like to keep mosquito-free such as the BBQ area, deck, or patio. For extra protection, just crush the plant’s fresh leaves and carry the around for a boost i protection.
Many commercial insect repellents contain pennyroyal since it is very effective at repelling not only mosquitoes but ticks, fleas, and gnats as well.
Other plants mosquitoes hate
A few other plants mosquitoes hate, include:
- Tea tree
- Vanilla sagebrush
Wearing any of these plant scented oils on your skin will keep the nasty biters at bay. However, there are people who are naturally immune to mosquitoes. you might have noticed that a relative or loved one for some odd reason does not become the target practice of mosquitoes during an infestation.
Researchers found that some people are not genetically wired to produce skin chemicals that attract mosquitoes, like most of us are. The lucky bastards! Also, some blood types are more alluring to a mosquito than others. For instance, type O-negative and O-positive attract the most suckers while blood type A and AB will help keep mosquitoes away the most.
How to make your own all-natural mosquito repellent
Here’s an excellent recipe for an all-natural mosquito repellent.
Start by crushing the leaves or flowers from one or more of the herbs mentioned above.
Then add them to vodka (yes vodka).
Allow the mixture to sit for 12 hours.
Then put the mix in a spray bottle and use as you would with any mosquito repellent. You can also substitute witch hazel for the vodka.
Here’s another recipe found on the Internet.
- 25 drops Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil (or any other essential oil from the mosquito-repelling plants mentioned in our post here)
- 4 fl oz Witch Hazel or rubbing alcohol
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 fl oz of Coconut oil (optional) – but it will make the anti-mosquito mix last longer on your skin and surfaces.
Here’s the video on how to do it with a few other all-natural mosquito-repellent recipes.
- 15 drops of Geranium essential oil
- 10 drops of Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil
- 15 drops of Citronella Essential oil
- 10 drops Lavender essential oil
- 5 drops Rosemary essential oil
- 1/4 cup witch hazel
- 1 teaspoon rubbing alcohol or vodka
- 1/4 cup water (or vinegar)
- 1/2 teaspoon vegetable glycerin (optional)
- Mix the essential oils and add the alcohol and combine.
- Add witch hazel and mix well.
- (Optional step) Blend in the vegetable glycerin.
- Add the water or vinegar and mix well.
- Add the mix to a spray bottle (preferably made of glass) and shake to mix well before each use (the oils and water just don’t naturally mix)
Other ways to keep your backyard mosquito-free
Get Rid of Standing Water
Standing water is your enemy. Mosquitoes need water to lay eggs so make sure that there’s little to no standing water on your property. Dump even the water in your potted plants’ saucers or your pets’ bowls. Look for items that can collect rainwater such as toys, car tires, empty buckets, and remove them from your yard.
Clean the rain gutters and make sure that no water has pooled inside. Keep in mind that mosquitoes cannot breed in moving water, so make sure that you change the water in bird baths, artificial ponds, and fountains every week. Mosquitoes need around 2 weeks to fully develop into adults.
Mosquito Dunks are Your Friend
Mosquito dunks are the only natural mosquito control tool with 100% effectiveness. Dunks are ideal for standing water you cannot refresh so easily such as water in ponds. Just add one dunk or a portion of it to the water and wait for it to do its thing.
Mosquito dunks do not kill off adult mosquitoes but they are poisonous to the mosquito larvae in water. As a result, mature mosquitoes can no longer breed and you backyard or garden should be mosquito free in no time.
Another great thing about mosquito dunks is that they are not harmful to aquatic life, plants, birds or other insects. They are made of bacteria which specifically target mosquito larvae. If you have a fungus gnat infestation, mosquito dunks are also the answer to all your prayers.
Turn Your Yard into a Dragonfly Haven
Dragonflies have a hearty appetite for mosquitoes. So, if you want them to keep your backyard and garden mosquito-free, make sure that you create the right conditions to attract the world’s fastest flying insects to your properties.
You will need to build a pond for that as dragonflies too need water to breed. Just make sure that the water stays clean and that there is enough room for the dragonflies to rest, mate, and perch. Also, forget about populating the pond with fish, as fish will eat the dragonfly larvae.
To keep mosquito larvae from growing in your dragonfly-friendly pond, use mosquito dunks in water. Don’t worry, the dragonfly larvae won’t be harmed. We have an entire post on how to build an oasis for dragonflies in your backyard (Check it out!): A Single Dragonfly Can Eat Hundreds of Mosquitoes Per Day, Plant This to Attract Them to Your Yard.
Keep in mind: All the mosquito repelling plants on our list work naturally, but if it’s raining or there’s a strong wind, the effectiveness of your plants may diminish over time. By grouping these plants around your decks and garden, you’ll be able to enjoy their beauty while keeping mosquito bites to a minimum.
After all, this is the perfect time of year to enjoy the great outdoors!
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